This upcoming weekend, we will be picking up our oldest as he completed his first year of college. Then, he’ll be home for the foreseeable future, as he’s decided that it wasn’t for him. The major was full of people he didn’t want to work with for the rest of his life. The major was one where they wanted more of the same, not someone who wanted to shake up the system to make it fair. The college itself just wasn’t for him. Did I fight his decision? Did I tell him he was wrong and he should suck it up? No. I didn’t. Because he’s a smart adult and I trust that he made this decision after careful thought, not rushing to some rash idea that he stubbornly stuck to.
I was telling my OB about it at our most recent appointment, where she said “I always say that a college education is wasted on an 18 year old.” She’s right. I wouldn’t have been as successful in college had I jumped right in after high school. It works for some people. It’s the right path for some people. But for others, they just waste money only to end up at a fast food restaurant and hoping they can make enough to cover their student loan debt. Will it eventually be the right move for my oldest? Probably. As hard as it is, we just have to sit back and let our children take control of their own destiny. We can’t make their decisions for them forever. Part of being an adult is raising them and hoping that you did enough so that they can make the right decisions for them. Whether you agree with it or not. I trust my son. I support him. I agree he made the right choice. $15k a year is a lot when you realize you have no clue what you want to do with your life. It also couldn’t have been easy for him to do, since he’s spent his entire life working towards this goal.
My love for my son isn’t contingent on his getting a college education, going to a fancy school, or having a fancy job title. My love for my son isn’t contingent on anything. I only want him to be a good person who makes a positive impact on the world around him, while being able to financially support himself and be a productive member of society. That’s what I care about. I’m not better than anyone because I graduated college. Having a graduate degree doesn’t make you smarter than everyone or a superior being. It’s the little things. It’s how you treat others. A person who treats everyone as equals will always be the superior person in my book. You don’t have to put someone down to be on top.
Will he eventually go back to school? Who knows. It’s not my decision. He’s nearly 20. These are the tough decisions that he is going to have to make for himself. But, at least he can make them knowing that he has the love and support of his parents no matter what.
My oldest has only been back from college a handful of times since he moved on campus across state at the end of August. He was home a couple of times on random weekends. He came back for a week at Thanksgiving. But next week, our boy comes home for an entire month and I cannot be more excited. While he does indulge his sometimes-too-loving parents on a nightly phone call, a routine he doesn’t seem to mind or complain about, it’s just not the same as having him home. The hardest part of parenting is when they grow up.
They do leave eventually, and that’s the point, isn’t it? We spend all of our time and energy trying to shape them into productive adults that, at minimum, live long enough to move out on their own. At best, they do something remarkable to leave a lasting impact on the world and making it a better place. But ultimately, we just want them to be happy. We want to teach them that their worth doesn’t come down to their income, that as long as they are making enough to get by that’s an accomplishment that not everyone has the luxury of. That they don’t have to accept what they have, because acceptance means they remain stagnant. No. We want them to be grateful for everything that they have, but to have aspirations that take them to the stars and beyond.
When my oldest comes home again, he will be (hopefully) welcomed by his favorite Christmas cookies that were lovingly made by his mother. He’ll get long talks about video games, anime, and superheroes with his father. His little brother will just have long talks about anything, while he politely obliges his brother’s inability to stop talking. He’ll be welcomed home by all of his family that love him dearly, excited to see their college boy that they’ve been so proud of for as long as he’s been born or since he became a part of their lives. The grandmothers will dote on him, asking him about when he’s going to bring home a “friend” or whether or not he’s eating enough at school. He will catch up with his friends and cousins to the point of I’m not sure if I’ll even get time with him while he’s home. But at least he’ll be home, for a month anyways.
It’s always that torn feeling you get though. You want them to go out in the world to accomplish their dreams. You want them to grow up and become the amazing individuals that you believed they would from the minute they were born. But, you want them near you so that you can protect them forever even when you know that you have to let some of that go. For now, I’ll just enjoy having him home.
I’ve always encouraged a little activism in my boys. I told them to fight for what they believe in, whatever that may be. That if they believed so strongly in something, they should educate themselves and if they need to fight for it, then they should. That’s how positive changes are made in the world. Whatever they are passionate about and believe in, that’s what cause they should back. I would support them no matter what. Well, I mean within reason. If they aren’t hurting anyone or encouraging anyone to be hurt, then knock yourself out. Well, I mean also within reason. I think people who hate on others and start hurling slurs at another human being deserves a nice knock to the jaw. Not that I would actively encourage that on any platform. I just won’t denounce anyone for it. What’s the joke? Punching Nazis is the American way?
My oldest son has always been hesitant to fight. He wanted to participate in things like walkouts at the school to support the teachers, but he was afraid of the consequences. I told him that was his choice. But that if he was suspended for doing that, I certainly wasn’t going to punish him for it. I’m a firm believer in the right to a peaceful protest. He wanted to go to college and not have any blemishes on his record. I told him that the right school wouldn’t care. As far as I know, he never participated in those protests. He’s boring. I would bet anything my youngest boy wouldn’t hesitate. Mostly because he’s a bit on the mischievous side. And we love him for his… willfulness.
On my oldest son’s Facebook, he posted a thing about a counter-protest on his campus. This protest was for a supposed preacher who was spewing hate on campus. (I believe no true man of God spews hate. If they do, then that proves my side of atheism because that’s a God I want nothing to do with.) That if you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or support them, you’re going to hell. From what my son had told me about him, he walks around the area where the classes are, speaking fire and brimstone. Which, I suppose tracks for Salem, MA. I’m hopeful this is a sign that he has found his voice. That he was going to use his voice to fight for something he believes in. And I’ve never been more proud of my boy.
It’s empowering when you finally find your voice. Whether it’s being away from your comfort zone causing you to stand up more for what you believe in or age or wisdom or newfound confidence in yourself. Your voice, oral or written, is one of the most powerful weapons you have. You have the choice to use it to fight for whatever injustice you feel needs to be fought. You can use your voice to make a difference. And I will always support a strong voice as long as they aren’t used for the wrong things. If they are used to incite violence or hate, then I will never support that. I don’t care what side of the aisle you are on. As long as you’re being respectful and aren’t running on a platform of hate and/or violence, you should use your voice. The minute we stifle that voice, especially because we don’t agree with it, we’re stifling another person’s voice. And as much as it’s hard to think about in this divisive world, they have the right to their peaceful voice.
Find your voice and use it. That’s it. That’s the advice.